Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Codicil to – and Amplification on – My “Whoosh-and-Crack” Post

My “Whoosh-and-Crack” post has received quite a bit more attention than I had intended or expected. That little essay has elicited comments from the left and right. I’ve been tempted to go onto those other blogs where it is being discussed, but I decided just to post my elaboration here.

When I set up this little blog in the final days of July, 2006, I had been a reader of blogs, but I had never committed “bloggery” myself. I was having some conversations with friends near and far, “real” and “virtual,” and it seemed useful to put my lame thoughts out there. It’s been rather amazing to see how blog entries can be picked up by friends and foes. Frankly, I’m been astonished – and both pleased and dismayed – by the traffic this little blog has received.

I wrote my “Whoosh-and-Crack” post mostly for myself and for those few sympathetic friends/readers with whom I had been corresponding. Now that it has gotten wider circulation, I find I need to make some further explanation and clarification.

I have been dismayed at the number of comments that, while intending to be supportive, have missed the point. Many comments have been along the lines of “Tush-Tush. Don’t worry. B033 was just a small step backward, before we make one or two steps forward.” Many commenters have assured me that +Katharine will “make it right.” Many have reminded me of the many Bishops who “distanced” themselves from B033. And, of course, many, many commenters have reminded me that I am on the Fast Road to Hell.

I know that B033 did not faithfully reflect where TEC stands on the issue of including, ordaining, and consecrating gay people into all orders of ministry of our church! Most Episcopalians are comfortable with the full inclusion of gay people in all orders of ministry. But I think they misread my essay.

I was reacting to the often-asked question, “Since B033 is so vague and gives so much wiggle room, why are you gay people in TEC reacting so viscerally and emotionally to its passage?” They’ve pressed that question in several blogs.

Most of the comments made along those lines were intended as supportive and encouraging. But, friends, they miss the point I was trying to make.

Here is the point I was trying – and obviously failed – to make in my “Whoosh-and-Crack” post .

Long ago, I was physically beaten. And now, even in the present time with a person I trust, those echoes still make my blood run cold. If you’ve been physically beaten, you get hypersensitive to little things. For me, it was the “whoosh and crack” I described in that essay. For another commenter there, it’s “anything that might wake Daddy.” I’ll freely admit: These reactions are not rational! They are visceral. Hear that? I’m openly confessing: It’s visceral! I hear the crack of the belt, and I assume it’s coming at me.

And, just like a friend innocently whipping her belt out of her belt-loop can “trigger” the memory of my physical abuse, in just the same way B033 triggered for me all those hateful “you’re not wanted here” comments from my previous five decades of life.

If you have no skin in the game, you can lecture me about how B033 left a bunch of “wiggle room” in our church's attitude for the inclusion about gay/lesbian members. But you don’t have my psychic history. Like most gay Episcopalians, I’ve been called names … stalked … attacked … beaten … all my life for being gay. I grew up (from ca. age 7) knowing I was “queer.” And I have endured verbal and physical attacks. B033 felt like another attack – and I underscore “felt”! Bishops and Deputies may not have intended it as an attack – any more than my dear friend had any intention of beating me when she nonchalantly whipped that belt out of her slacks belt loops. But it felt like an attack. That is why I am having so much trouble with B033. Because it echoed all the other verbal and physical attacks I have endured in the 40+ years of recognizing I’m gay.

I did not intend to say that B033 was the end of dialogue. I merely meant to answer the question so many people have asked: “Why are you over-reacting to B033?” Friends, I am not trying to say B033 was violence, nor that it was intended as violence.

I’m just trying to explain to you why some of us – we who have suffered verbal and physical violence for decades – are responding to it as if it were violence. I’m trying to explain why it feels so painful, personal, and visceral to those of us who have endured the “whoosh-and-crack” – whether physical and literal, or figurative and metaphorical – of gay-haters in the course of our lives.

Can you begin to hear the difference?

15 Comments:

Blogger Pisco Sours said...

The love of Christ be with you, Lisa, now and always and even in the past, when it might have seemed he wasn't there.

8/11/2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

So often I hear this comment -" that is not what I intended" and somehow this is supposed to make it all right. How refreshing it was to me when a priest in Wyoming upon being told by a woman that his hugs made her uncomfortable, responded by saying "oh, I am so glad you told me this so I will know in the future" He was not defensive - he did not say it was her fault because he did not mean it that way - he just accepted the information and changed his behavior.

8/11/2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Saint Pat said...

Lisa, my first reaction to your posting was to the little girl (who was you) who was enduring that abuse, and to pray for her.

I look at you, Father Jake, and a few others I know who endured the most awful kinds childhood abuse, and marvel that you are so strong and resilient, and so loving. Christ has done so much healing in you.

Nobody gets out of life unscathed, I suppose. While I got only a few minor switchings, it was my mother's anger and displeasure, vented on me, that devastated me. I still react out of that.

Even with healing, there's still that "whoosh-and-crack" spot in us all.

Peace.

8/11/2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger Jarred said...

Hi Lisa. I found your blog, this entry, and the original "whoosh and crack" entry through Father Jake. I just wanted to say that I loved both entries and can empathize with what you're saying on many levels.

8/11/2006 9:24 AM  
Blogger Guidonia said...

Lisa,

Perhaps the reason so few people have engaged what you've said on an emotional level is that this is SO hard to do among strangers in cyberspace. Compassion is hard to convey without the aids of body language, eye contact, etc., I now see that pitifully few of us have managed to convey compassion in responding to you, even though I certainly felt it when i was writing.

Perhaps another reason that so few people have responded appropriately to the raw emotion in your post is that many of us have been there in response to B033 and have tried hard to distance ourselves from it. In posting my first response to you on this blog, what I really meant to describe was how that distancing process has worked for me. But in describing my own experience, I certainly didn't mean to say that your pain was invalid and that you should just get over it. Now I see that it probably came across that way, and that my response wasn't appropriate or helpful for where you were at that time. I'm sorry.

8/11/2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger revsusan said...

Brava!

8/11/2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger Suzer said...

Lisa -- "whoosh-and-crack" makes perfect sense to me. And B033 was/is violence -- spiritual violence, though there was an attempt to couch it in terms that could be found "acceptable" to all. There is no hiding its actual intent. Gandhi's grandson related a story about how his grandfather taught him that throwing out a not-completely-used pencil was an act of violence (against nature, against those who made the pencil, etc.). Although B033 did not physically reach out and slap anyone, many of us felt the sucker punch anyway. Violence does not have to leave bruises we can see -- it can still bruise the soul and spirit. Thank you for sharing this. Having just transferred my membership from the UMC back to the Episcopal Church, I've been feeling the "whoosh-and-crack" across denominations lately. I begin to wonder why I remain a Christian at all. Thanks also for your comments on my blog -- I want to take more time to read about your trip to the Sudan when I have a moment (work's been very busy lately!). Blessings...

Susan

8/11/2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger Ellie Finlay said...

I was beaten - not with a belt but with a flyswatter. To this day the sight of a flyswatter or the mention of one triggers a visceral reaction in me and I am 57 years old. I imagine I will take that reaction to my grave.

8/11/2006 5:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you, friends, for the kind and loving comments. I am truly, deeply touched by your compassion.

But I also do want to deflect the attention where it belongs.

I don't really want this attention because of whatever drama I have suffered. I am vividly aware that my sufferings are not the worst, and (sadly) they're not even remarkable.

The point it: We have all suffered. And it's the mission of the Church to embrace and nurture. We must embrace and comfort one another. And our Church must find a way to speak out in love.

I'm honored to call all of you my brothers and sisters in Christ.

8/11/2006 10:50 PM  
Blogger january736 said...

Lisa, but it was violence, it is violence. And sinful. I am struggling with whether to renounce my vows; I believe once again that we are indeed "children of a lesser god", I don't believe it in my head, of course, but there it sits, deep in my soul, nagging, nagging. There she was, so soon, so soon, using expediency, using the end justifies the means kind of thinking, there she was, so bright a day before, PB elect, the hope of brighter and better things to come, the hope of the Spirit calling us forth and then, and then, this sinful act. Oh, I know. I've heard all the excuses. Plain BS. She forgot what her name is. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's "Faithful" or "Constancy" or maybe it's "Beloved of God", whatever her secret name is, she forgot it. At any rate, it was, is sinful and the church will have to make amends before anything good can come of it. As for me, I don't know if I can stick around, no trust no more. Fool me once....You, you straight people who counsel patience, you climb on the cross of expediency next time. You go first next time. I've been doing it all my life.

8/11/2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Wow, January! I do hear the pain in what you're saying.

Like you, I find myself profoundly conflicted about our new PB. I felt so proud on Sunday. But 72 hours later, I felt, "You have no part of me."

Here's all I can say about her at this point: Her mouth framed words that would tell us she is an ally. Her actions betrayed us -- no more, no less. I'm just waiting 'til she assumes the Presiding Bishop's office to see whether she'll continue to sell her soul as she did that day. Every ounce of joy I felt on that Sunday was thrown in the trash on that Wednesday.

I hope she will show more courage than she has thus far.

And I pray you will not do anything precipitous about renouncing your vows.

Angry as I am at TEC, I do still believe TEC is the best expression of Christianity in this nation of ours today.

8/11/2006 11:34 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Re: +KJS -- her actions and words to date except for B033 have been consistently supportive. However, this was a betrayal - I, too, will wait and see. I think it is hard to know what I would do in that moment with ++Frank on one side and +++Rowan on the cell phone on the other side.

8/12/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger TexasLib said...

Lisa, I was moved by yout original post and again by the update.

I am also still at least nominally Episcopalian, a path I chose as an adult. And like you, I have reacted to some actions of some in the church as if it were the violence I have also known first hand.

I find that spitiual violence is no less painful and no more justifiable than physical violence.

I can only echo the words of Bishop Spong and pray that we have the courage and perhaps just the stubborness to do what must be done.

"The world would still be practicing slavery, child labor, and second class status for women, had not a new consciousness confronted our prejudices in a movement that always destroys the unity of the old consensus."

Peace to you and healing to the Episcopal Church.

Pat

8/12/2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ann, I'll definitely try to get tickets to +KJS's investiture -- but only because I plan to be in DC for The Episcopal Majority meeting. But you can bet on this: If I do attend, I'll be wearing my "Manner of Life" t-shirt!

Texaslib, thanks for the kind comments. But don't just be a nominal Episcopalian; find a healthy parish nearby, and dive into it! [I bet that's hard to do if -- as your screenname suggests -- you are in Texas! My heart goes out to you.] ... And, yes, what +Spong said is right! But if we don't engage, it will never move forward.

8/12/2006 7:46 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes! Oh Lisa, I know I'm coming late to this discussion, but I'm so glad you were so eloquent in expressing MY feelings. I wasn't physically abused, no, but B033 absolutely FELT like violence to me. As a postulant in TEC, I feel completely betrayed and abandonded by the church I thought I could trust. I return to my lack of trust in most institutions and a serious question of my call. I speak of my feelings of betrayal here.

8/14/2006 3:09 PM  

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